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Furman presents awards at Bell Tower Ball

Watch video presentations about the award winners

Furman University recently presented awards at its annual Bell Tower Ball, which took place at the Greenville Convention Center on Saturday, Feb. 23.

Julie McElrath ’73 receives her award from Todd Malo ’95, president of the Furman Alumni Association Board of Directors.

The event celebrated the accomplishments of members of the Furman community, honoring several alumni, a corporate partner and friends of the university for their professional achievements and for generosity, service and leadership to the university and the community.

Julie McElrath ’73 received the Carl F. Kohrt Distinguished Alumni Award, which is awarded annually in recognition of significant professional or personal accomplishments and in gratitude for continued loyalty to Furman.

Arianna McLain Shirk ’02 was awarded the Tom A. Triplitt Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which recognizes an alumnus from the last 20 years who has brought honor or recognition to Furman through individual accomplishments.

Stanford Jennings ’84 was presented with the Gordon L. Blackwell Alumni Service Award, which honors an individual who has dedicated extraordinary service to Furman.

Arianna Shirk ’02 receives her award from Dr. Stephen Dyar ’02.

Prisma Health–Upstate, formerly Greenville Health System, received the University Partnership Award. (Palmetto Health, now Prisma Health–Midlands, and GHS recently joined to become Prisma HealthSM.) The award honors an individual or organization that has worked in conjunction with Furman to meaningfully contribute to the local or broader community by engaging citizens, promoting public scholarship and working for the betterment of society.

Ralph Hendricks, who died on Feb. 17 at the age of 101, was posthumously recognized as the recipient of the Honorary Alumni Award, which commends individuals who are not graduates of Furman but who have made significant contributions to its welfare, reputation, prestige and pursuit of excellence.

Kris Kapoor ’94 received the Wayne and Rubye Reid Award, which honors alumni who have made significant contributions to the career development of Furman students.

Stanford Jennings ’84 receives his award from Alec Taylor, chair of the Furman Board of Trustees.

Leighan and David Rinker were given the Engaged Parent Award, which recognizes the parents of a Furman student or graduate in appreciation for their commitment to education and leadership as volunteers.

Here is more information about the award winners:

Julie McElrath received her biology degree from Furman and continued her education at the Medical University of South Carolina where she received both her medical degree and doctorate in pathology. McElrath joined the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 1996 and is currently a senior vice president and member where she directs the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division. Since joining the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, she has become a scientific leader in the development of a clinically effective HIV vaccine. McElrath has established a global laboratory platform and leads two large research consortia funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is also a full professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a physician consultant at the UW Medical Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Spence Taylor, president of Prisma Health – Upstate, receives his award from Cindy Riyad ’07, a member of Furman’s Young Alumni Council.

Arianna McLain Shirk currently lives with her family in Kijabe, Kenya, where she is the head of pediatrics at AIC Kijabe Hospital and faculty member at the University of Nairobi and co-director of the first Pediatric Emergency Medicine/ICU fellowship in East Africa. She develops curriculum and serves as a mentor to countless clinicians in an effort to develop and improve pediatric emergency care for the children of Kenya and East Africa.

Stanford Jennings was a star running back for the Furman Paladins who spent nearly eight years playing in the National Football League. After his NFL career, he joined Reebok International where he started his career in sales and is currently a member of the corporate sales management team at New Balance. Jennings is serving his third term as a member of the Furman Board of Trustees. He generously supports the athletic department and Paladin Club, and established an endowed scholarship to support deserving student-athletes.

Kris Kapoor ’94 receives his award from Anne-Claire Pittman ’18.

Prisma Health-Upstate is a private nonprofit academic health care delivery system committed to medical excellence through clinical care, education and research. For decades, Furman students have benefited from unparalleled access to the organization’s clinical learning environment. In 2013, Furman joined the GHS Health Sciences Center as its primary undergraduate partner; in 2016, Furman and GHS launched the Institute for the Advancement of Community Health. Together, both Furman and Prisma Health-Upstate are committed to addressing health disparities in the community through innovative programs like the Medical-Legal Partnership and the Master of Science in Community Engaged Medicine.

Ralph Hendricks was a longtime member of the Furman Board of Trustees and an influential figure in the Simpsonville community. He was a loyal member of the Richard Furman Society and generous donor to the Paladin Club and athletic department. His generous benefactions to the university included the establishment of the Hendricks-Hillcrest Scholarship and Ralph S. Hendricks Scholarship, which provide critical scholarship assistance to students. Furman awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 2000.

Leighan and David Rinker receive their award from Furman President Elizabeth Davis.

Kris Kapoor is Furman’s Chief Investment Officer and a member of the CFA Society of South Carolina. As an advisor to the student Investment Club, he is a passionate and dedicated mentor who has helped many students launch successful careers in the investment industry.

Leighan and David Rinker are founding donors of the Partners Program, the university’s signature scholarship program for students and benefactors. The Rinkers have also provided transformational naming gifts for Rinker Hall and the Rinker Center for Study Away and International Education. Leighan has served the university as a long-time member of the Board of Trustees, including a term as chair.

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107 and


Last updated February 25, 2019
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director